Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld Terry Pratchett

The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, 2007, 304 pages, hardback, NZ$40
ISBN 978-0-385-61177-0

“Limited wossname. Doodah. Thingy. You know. It’s got words in it,” said the parrot.
“Dictionary?” said Rincewind.

Terry Pratchett is one of those authors whose Discworld books are so funny that you carry them around quoting gems in order to get other people reading them and then the blighters borrow your copies and never return them. This book solves one problem. By collecting lots of the best bits from the 35 other books, Stephen Briggs has saved us lugging them all about. Unfortunately he has created a new problem: another Pratchett book that’s going to be pinched. Best to give copies away for Christmas in a pre-emptive strike.

Some of the quotations are brief - “Ridcully was good at doing without other people’s sleep.” - while others are long enough to convey the full flavour of the best moments, like Granny Weatherwax’s duel with Death. My favourite is Death’s response to being offered a job as a teacher. “Death’s face was a mask of terror. Well, it was always a mask of terror, but this time it was meant to be.”
In case, you’re still puzzled the word the parrot was groping for was ‘vocabulary’. In this book’s splendid index, the relevant quote is listed under ‘wossname’.

Trevor Agnew

This review was first published in The Press, Christchurch, NZ on 15th December 2007.

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